Nadya Valova

Customer Success Manager

Nadya Valova

Start-Up Business Tips: 35 Experts Give Us Their Top Survival Pointers!

Starting a new business is easy, right? Wrong.

To build a great business is extremely hard and at times you have to deal with issues that you were not prepared for. There are so many different areas of your company that you need to be on top of, whether it’s customer service, finances, digital marketing, SEO or something else. The list can feel endless.

We’ve grown Hike from just an idea to a 4000+ strong customer base in just over a year, so we’ve had our fair share of difficulties to overcome during this time. So we wanted to help all new start-up businesses by creating a guide of what to look out for and how to overcome common hurdles.

In this article, we have gathered great start-up business tips from multiple successful companies to share their experiences with you. They are grouped into different categories to make it easier for you to read and apply to your start-up, which are:

1. General business 
2. Target audience 
3. Customer service  
4. Finance  
5. Content strategy 
6. Market research

1. General Start-up Business Tips

When you are starting a new business it’s good to have an overview of what you want to do and achieve. Here are some general start-up tips from company founders, which are great for finding the inspiration you need.

Dave Brock the Author “Sales Manager Survival Guide,” & CEO at Partners In EXCELLENCE:

“Too many entrepreneurs don’t realize how much time it takes to build a business, giving up too soon, or running out of money before they have had a chance to start seeing systematic/repeatable success.  Give yourself enough time (several years) and make sure you have the funding to support your business and family.”

Tony Cole founder of Anthony Cole Training:

“Many times we sold accounts our training and development programs that had not yet been created.  So in other words we started out really knowing how to sell and learned the training, learning and development business as we grew.  We continue to set lofty goals and when we decided we really wanted to grow we added people that could deliver our content. That meant that we were willing to give up a piece of the pie knowing and having faith that the pie would get bigger.“

Tom Sullivan the COO at Turbo Medical Marketing:

“Develop a vision, that you continue to refine as you grow, for acquiring the perfect clients and perfect employees. Then work on the processes and strategies needed to find these clients and employees.”

Anil Agarwal founder of bloggerspassion.com:

“There’s only one thing that I believe in to succeed in any business “find a problem, offer a solution, get paid”. Most startups fail simply because they don’t offer solutions to real problems.  You get lifelong customers if you add value to their lives by solving their problems and using your solution to improve their lives, save their time or money. That’s it. That’s the success mantra. If I had to start again, I’d also consider my competitors and focus on making my products or services a lot better (or cheaper or easy to use).”

Bob Apollo the Founder of Inflexion-Point:

“Focus on solving problems rather than selling ‘solutions’. Start with a clear sense of the business issues you intend to address, the organisations you intend to address them for, the roles that are likely to sponsor the project, and the trigger events that are likely to cause them to recognise the need for change.”

Roy Povarchik CEO & Founder of Stardom.oi:

“A successful business is based on a mixture of elements done right (idea, process, marketing, budget, etc.). Be sure you’re “listening” to feedback and your market to optimize those elements one at the time.”

Tabitha Naylor owner of TabithaNaylor.com:

“Taking flight takes risk. Young entrepreneurs just starting out too often get caught up in the fear of failure that they never make it off the ground. Fear translates to striving for some sense of security by dissecting every little factor and obsessing over everything that could go wrong when starting a business. Overthinking, in turn, traps you in a state of so-called analysis paralysis, keeping you from taking the risk of getting your startup up and running. Remember, there’s a world of growth outside of your comfort zone, but to get there you have to make the first steps out and be ready to fail.”

Laura Burnett the business development manager at MHE Services LTD:

“I actually found listening to a podcast, which is something I’ve never done in my life, the best thing I ever did. I’m listening to one called ‘Marketing Your Business’ by Stu McLaren. I’m hooked on it and it’s given me so much inspiration for my marketing overall and ideas. I put it on when I’m in the car driving to work and just listen away.

So my top tip is to find some way to get the right mindset of not just posting and trying things. Actually stopping and thinking about it. Podcasts was my way of doing this”

2. Target Audience Tips for Start-Ups

Finding the right target audience has most likely been a big challenge for you, as you just don’t want to miss out on any opportunity when comes to finding new customers. Here are some very great target audience tips for you to take away.

Mike Allton an author, speaker & blogger:

“It’s far more effective to narrow the focus of your business as much as possible.

To some, that’s counter-intuitive. To some, you risk excluding potential customers and audiences. But here’s the truth…

If you narrow your focus in your business and your writing, that actually makes it easier to communicate who you are and what you care about. It facilitates the creation of great content that serves your audience, and it makes it crystal clear to Google what you are an authority on. That will build your business faster than anything.”

Stuart Thompson CEO of Live Wire Media:

“When you know who it is you are targeting then you know how to talk to them and how to advertise and market to them with a voice that appeals to them. If you don’t take this step then you end up running around like headless chickens dealing with clients that you don’t want and chasing money that isn’t worth the effort you put in.”

Terri Levine founder of Heartepreneur:

“Instead of marketing your products and services first make sure your exact target audience has a high interest in your offering by doing a survey of prospective clients/customers and asking them this question, “If I could help you get one result and only one result, what result do you want?”. Then you can sell what they tell you they want vs. what you think they want.”

3. Customer Service Tips For Start-ups

Customer service is a heart to every business and some times as busy owners we do forget to give our customers that extra smile and extra email. Here are some great tips on how to do and reminders for you why it is important. 

Chris Brogan founder of chrisbrogan.com

“Focus on being helpful. I know this sounds fluffy, but lots of companies spend far too much time building their internal structures and plans and marketing material and the like. If you want to win, help your customers win. Every company success I’ve had comes from helping someone else.”

Gee Ranasinha CEO of Kexino:

“Talk to your customers. With words, coming out of your mouth. Don’t hide behind online surveys or feedback forms. Get on the phone with every single customer who buys, upgrades, downgrades or cancels. Actually talk to them in the way human beings do. It’s important to have a conversation as it gives you more honest insights regarding what the customer experience was like for them.”

Julius Fedorovicius founder of analyticsmania.com:

“Serve your customer the best way you can. In my opinion, this is the most important thing. Your customer, his/her needs should be your top priority. Every time I write a blog post, my main goal is never to make more traffic (I mean, traffic is still important, but serving customer is more important). My main goal of a blog post is to be as thorough as possible and answer people’s questions, help them learn, help them grow, help them solve their own problems.”

Steve founder online store owner bumblebeelinens.com:

“focus on your best customers.  For our store, our best 10% of customers generate almost half of our revenue.  Knowing where to focus your marketing efforts always leads to a more effective allocation of resources to maximize growth.”

4. Digital Marketing Tips for Start-ups

It has become such an innovative and easy way for customers to reach you and so digital marketing is one of the most powerful tools right now. Looking to brainstorm some ideas on how to up your traffic and sales? Then make sure you read these digital marketing tips from experienced companies below. 

Richard Harris founder of The Harris Consulting Group:

“Recognize that early on you want a validation website. Meaning it lets someone find you and know you are real.  Does not have to be a ton of pages… home page, services page, blog, contact us page at minimum”

Neal Schaffer CEO of PDCA Social:

“For social media, just like with SEO, you need to have content. But you can literally spend all day on social media and generate zero business results, so you need to 1) figure out those specific social networks that will drive business forward for you because that’s where your target customer is, 2) create a paid social strategy for those platforms as organic social itself probably will not generate enough business fast enough for you, and 3) figure out ways to collaborate with other social media users, i.e. influencers, who can help generate massive visibility for your company at potentially very little cost.“

Steve Marin Ecommerce Marketing Consultant at SparkPPC:

“My advice is focused on the 3 jumpstart levers for new businesses: Paid traffic (Facebook Ads, Google Ads); Content (Guest blogging, guest podcasting, public speaking); Strategy Partnerships (Joint ventures, referral partnerships). These 3 jumpstart levers target a 1:Many audience vs. 1:1; so they’re far more effective than cold calling or cold emailing.”

David Freid Head of SEO at Vertigroup International:

“One of the most important considerations for those just starting a business is to thoroughly optimize a Google My Business (GMB) listing for their business. It is best to fill out as much of the GMB as possible using only the correct business name, phone and address and should match other citations wherever they are found on Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, etc. These need to be exactly the same, right down to the use of a comma.”

Akash Srivastava Freelance SEO Consultant:

“Make sure you take SEO into account from the start of the startup, instead of focusing on SEO after few years of the launch, I have seen many startups making the same mistake, so avoid it at all.”

David B Customer Happiness Guru at Schmicko:

“Following up with your customers, in this case, through email automation for abandon carts. We allow customers to place bookings online and in some instances, experience customers abandoning their booking form. The customer’s intent to purchase must have been pretty high if they were up to this point of the booking process. Also, if you were going to lose them to a competitor, at least you will have one last chance to woo them back in with an attractive offer.”

Constantin Buda CEO & Growth Strategy of Vidalico:

“Many marketers have trouble increasing brand awareness and generating leads, but the businesses using marketing automation and artificial intelligence have covered this and moved on to bigger tasks. Sales and marketing teams work toward the same goal, so finding common ground on how to get there and supporting each other has to come easy. Sales automation is not just another way to improve and increase sales; it’s an essential practice that will enable you to compete with much bigger businesses.”

Ashley Saunders Editor at My Dream Haus:

“My top tip is to create a Keyword Map. By putting one in place I’ve grown www.mydreamhaus.co.uk traffic by 1300% over the last year.

There are three parts to building a Keyword Map; create your list of keyword ‘ideas’ first, drill down these into a list of phrases you will actually optimise along with a content calendar, and finally track the performance of each keyword you optimise.”

Bret Carmichael founder of Leap Works:

“The CLV to CAC ratio helps clients understand the return on their marketing investment. With the variables of branding and web design eliminated, it somewhat directly reports on the effectiveness of an ad campaign, and answers, “Are we spending too much or not enough?”

Kallen Diggs founder of Reaching the Finish Line:

‘“First, I publish a 1,000+ word blog post on my blog. Then, I publish a 400-500 word snippet of the blog post on a bigger website with a link. By publishing a few articles in this manner, you can use the snippets published on the bigger website to send interested readers to your blog.”

Navaz Batiwalla founder of disneyrollergirl.net:

“If you have an image-based business, you can use Pinterest to drive traffic to your site. The images will travel around Pinterest and automatically link back to your site whenever anyone clicks on them. This works best for strong lifestyle imagery, so it’s great for fashion, beauty and travel businesses.”

David Weightman founder of Married to my Camera:

“I use a great little phone app called ‘Bonjoro’ to send a personalised thank you message to my couples whenever they enquire about their wedding photography. I’ve had really good feedback from them so far, and it helps me to stand out from the competition, who the couple are inevitably getting quotes from as well. Within the app, I can see when they’ve watched my video message, and when they’ve clicked on the call to action, which takes them back to a page of my website where there’s more detail about prices, packages, albums, engagement shoots etc”

5. Finance Tips for Start-Ups

It can be quite a financial challenge starting your own business and at times you might even find yourself finding out about accounts and other ways you could have started off with and made your life a lot easier. These finance tips are definitely worth to read through.

Antonio Wedral co-founder and director of Novos:

“Have separate accounts & operate profit-first: Have a tax, VAT, costs & profit account and always allocate a certain percentage when you get paid into your profit account, then the rest allocate as necessary. This has helped us grow the financial health of the business”

Adam Connell founder of bloggingwizard.com:

“Don’t quit your day job even if you can – there’s no guarantee things will work out. Revenue needs to be stable and you need enough money saved to keep you going if things go sideways (consider both personal & business expenses).”

Alice Kemper owner of Sales Training Werks:

“Recognize you should have five year’s worth of living expenses in the bank before you start.  You are not necessarily going to make money the first few years. There are start-up expenses along with the time it takes to gain customers and ongoing marketing expenses.  In the training solution business, the sales cycle is 12-18 months to close with outbound cold prospecting and 3-9 months when the prospect has called you. Which translates to… in year one if I close 5-10 sales, they wouldn’t close for 6 – 12 months and payment may take another 90-120 days.  You do the math… my first year’s business and living expenses may not be in the bank until the next year. “

6. Content Strategy Tips for Start-Ups

Blogs and content within your website has become very important in terms of what customers are looking for, as well as how it affects your websites SEO. Here are two great content strategy stips for you.

Lars Nilsson CEO of Sales Source:

“Asking the insights from your first customers, sales conversations, and expertise of folks within your company and crafting blogs/social posts/infographics/templates for both brand awareness and fueling the sales team fire. You see, It turns out that thought leadership in the form of written content, audio content and video content can help get your message, brand and identity at a much greater scale in the new modern sales and marketing world we now live in.”

George Mouratidis Copywriter & Content Strategist:

“I have managed to grow my blog traffic by 4000% in a year with optimized journalistic content. My mini-research led me to the conclusion that Google’s algo is impressively smart in ways we cannot imagine (and incredibly dumb as well) and will reward engaging content. In a nutshell: Write first, optimize later. Focus on humans. Pay for a great writer. They’re worth it.”

7. Market Research Tips for Start-Ups

There is so much that goes into the marketing research and it can become very time consuming, so you need to make sure you get the most out of it. Here are some great top tips on market research for you.

Brandi Good Business System Consultant & Tech Integrator:

“A big one for startups is to start networking (online & offline) with your potential audience and talk about your business idea or product/service idea before you start investing a ton of time and money into it. You are essentially doing market research that gets you a lot of qualitative data and insights that traditional market research might not.”

Sue Painter founder of Confident Marketer:

“My top start-up tip for a new business is to make sure you’re viewing your business from your customer’s eyes, not yours. Get your own beliefs out of the way. Ask 3 strangers who might need what you offer to look at your business name and one sentence that describes who you are and what you do. Do the strangers get it? Are they interested? Is it succinct enough so that there’s no question what you do? Is your business name meaningful to them?”

Jeremy Lawlor Founder of Active Business Growth:

“it wasn’t until we created a marketing funnel that generated leads on a predictable basis that really allowed us to hit our stride and grow our business. This is why I highly recommend establishing a proof of concept with your lead generation funnel before you go all-in on your business.”

I hope you found this post useful and you can check out our other article on how to motivate your team here. If you would like contribute to our posts or have any questions feel free to get in touch. 

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